Chapter 68

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Icarus was the first to come to his senses.

“Oh my God…” He lacked even a basic understanding of swordsmanship and martial arts—his focus lay in strategy, tactics, and research. Icarus had no idea how great his roommate’s technique was. Icarus opened and closed his eyes, but all he saw was Amaru falling to the ground.

He couldn’t even see Ash’s movements properly—no one could. Kane’s dumbfounded expression made that obvious.

My calculations have never been wrong before, but I didn’t imagine that Young Master Ash would have such skills. I’m stunned.

Icarus watched over Joshua from the top of the stadium. Whether Joshua knew it or not, everything he did meant something to Icarus. An act of courage and arrogance by an untalented person was just that; but the conviction and courage of a powerful person like Ash was a display of talent.

However… Worry creased Icarus’s face.

Something unexpected had occurred, and it was not a good thing. The scion of a great swordsman was defeated by a boy with a spear, of all things. It was a clear insult. Even worse, it happened in front of the children of nobility.

Sten would not stand for this humiliation. The next blow might very well come from the family itself.

I need to help. Icarus’s expression was filled with determination. Ash’s next move needs to be carefully planned to prevent something like this from happening again. My tactics can help him.

Beside him, Agareth gaped blankly at the center of the gymnasium. Icarus nudged him, but he was unresponsive like he’d passed out. Icarus sighed and turned back to look at Ash.

“Joshua von Agnus…”

Icarus was startled and turned to face the source of the voice tickling his ear. It came from a girl with ubiquitous brown hair; she wore the same necktie as them, suggesting she was of the same age.

Joshua von Agnus…? Icarus tilted his head thoughtfully. Hmm. Where did I hear that name?

He wasn’t familiar with the name, but he’d definitely heard it somewhere. Any name that wasn’t absolutely bottom-of-the-barrel would find its way into every ear in the Empire.

What if… he’s connected to that family? The Agnus Duchy, the most prestigious and one of the biggest gatherings of knights in the Empire, often known as the “Knight’s Family.” Besides Duke Aden von Agnus himself, only one person bore the Agnus name.

Icarus gasped. The Empire’s treasure, Babel von Agnus.

There was another weird rumor bouncing around the Capital: a new talent was discovered that could shatter the status quo. The idea terrified Icarus enough that he couldn’t keep it from his expression.

No way—! Icarus whirled around to look for that curious girl—but she had already vanished, leaving Icarus to mumble to himself.

Can I verify it for myself? What if there’s no way? Suspicion swelled in Icarus’s heart and spiraled out of control. He’d been so sure that Ash came from a situation not unlike his own; but then Ash had smashed through the Sten family with a single blow—and smashed Icarus’s expectations, too.

But the events leading to this moment were too suspicious. Icarus needed to know who this Ash pen Frederick really was.

In the meantime, the rest of the audience was coming to their senses. The gymnasium rapidly filled with noise again, but Icarus’s deeply sunken eyes never wavered from their target.

The Academy’s dormitories were identical for males and females. They were also both empty—there was quite some time until the students were due to return to their lodgings.

The door to a certain room swung open with a creak, allowing a rather ordinary-looking girl to enter.

“I thought you would be quiet like a dead mouse…” Anna1, the girl in question, bit her lip. She took a quick glance around the room to make sure she had privacy, then pulled out her communication crystal ball.

A device like this was far too valuable for a noble’s child to be carrying on their own. Anna was on a mission, however, and she had to take the risk.

By injecting a little bit of mana into the ball, a hologram slowly coalesced on top of the crystal. Anna was surprised when she realized who the fully-formed figure was. The crystal ball wasn’t good enough to show her in detail, but the glossy, dark-brown hair drew her eye.

“Ah… I never thought it would be you, father.”

[It’s been a long time, Anna.]

“Why did father…”

A lovely young man gently waved his hand as Anna settled into her seat.

[Indeed, it’s me. How’s the Academy? Are you enjoying it?]

“I’m doing well… but how is father able to communicate with me directly?” Anna’s words caught in her throat and her eyes widened. “Is it… Are there problems with the Empire?”

[Problems with the Empire?] The man in the ball erupted into laughter. [Thran has been irate recently, but I can’t do anything on my own since I’m merely a Master.]

“Ah.” The way the man casually spoke about the most powerful position, short of the Emperor himself, made Anna flush. “Then why…?”

[Vig beck Steck is dead.]

“What!? The Viscount is dead? Did you hear it from Duke Agnus? Or did he somehow get tangled up in something that—”

[No, that’s not the case.] The man shook his head. [The Duchy is also in turmoil right now.]

“I’m not sure what you’re talking about.”

[The Seven Magicians.]

Anna boggled at the man. “The Seven Magicians of the Magic Tower did this? What proof do you have?”

[It’s said that the Thunderbolt, Jack Steropes, is on the move.]

Anna was silent for a moment while she absorbed the unexpected information.

“Is the Tower aware of our plans? This is so sudden—they were so arrogant and greedy, so what are they doing now?”

The man nodded. [The Magic Tower runs on money. They never move their fat asses unless there’s money involved, and that’s exactly why they’re moving now.]

“What do you mean by that?”

[Their movements have nothing to do with our plans. They were silent since Duke Agnus intervened, and judged us as having nothing to do with them. But they have one goal… to destroy.] The man paused for a moment, eyes glittering.

[The child you’ve been observing, Joshua von Agnus. It appears he found what the Tower was protecting.]

“What was it?”

[They were keeping the Origins Stones. A stone imbued with the power of an attribute; some say that one was found in the fertile lands of Thran as well.]

Anna hesitated. “...Wouldn’t it be huge if he obtained such a powerful object from the Magic Tower? It’s best we seize it from Joshua von Agnus—”

[No. It’s a waste of power.] The man shook his head firmly. [After all, it’s not like anyone except the Magic Tower could ever use the power of the Stone. Our bloodline, on the other hand, would be immediately wiped out if we were discovered taking interest in such things.]

“Sorry… I thought of something useless again.”

[As a result of his tendency to attract unexpected variables, your work has become even more crucial.]

“I will keep a closer eye on him.”

[Did you see him today, as well?]

“Yes. I have been monitoring him constantly.”

[In the future, report to me directly for anything about the boy.]

“I will.” Anna took a deep breath. “As soon as he arrived at the Academy, Joshua von Agnus had an accident.”


“He belittled the rapier, so the second son of Sten challenged him to a duel. Joshua eagerly accepted and then, just earlier, knocked down Amaru bron Sten in front of everyone.”

[That’s fantastic.] The man’s stiff expression collapsed into laughter. [I can’t wait to see how Duke Agnus reacts when he hears about this.] The man clapped his hands together.

“This makes me nervous. Monitoring will be difficult if Duke Agnus pulls Joshua back into the household out of fear of a greater incident.”

[The Duke getting involved? Well, it’s not impossible…]

“If the Duke starts to have negative ideas, it’ll be difficult for us. The Duchy isn’t a place we have enough intelligence on.”

[That isn’t the issue, is it?] The man shook his head and smiled widely. [I know a terrific man named Duke Agnus who will be thrilled to hear the news. Perhaps that child will take over as the Duke’s official successor.]

“If the succession is flipped, it won’t be pretty—especially since he’s a concubine’s child. Would the Duke really set Babel von Agnus aside? I mean, no matter how much the Duke loves talent…” Anna shook her head; she didn’t believe it would ever happen. “I don’t understand.”

[He is indeed the humble child of a maid, but—] The man grinned inscrutably, to Anna’s consternation. [wouldn’t it be lovely if his own child was better off than the others?]

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